HOW TO SELL
TO YOUR SALES TEAM
Our latest research paper, ‘The Business Case for Inbound Part 1: A Winning Formula for Sales’, identifi es why Inbound Marketing is a powerful sales tool, and how it benefi ts the Sales team above all else. However, there is a hitch: the implementation of an Inbound Strategy can cause an initial drop in lead volume, often causing Sales to give up on the concept within the fi rst fi ve days. While Inbound Marketing never promises to be an instant solution, it has the potential, over time, to not only increase lead generation but more signifi cantly, improve lead quality, which in turn, improves conversion rates and sales revenues.
SO, HOW CAN YOU CONVINCE YOUR SALES TEAM THAT
THEY CAN ACHIEVE MORE WITH LESS?
Walking into a Sales and Marketing meeting and announcing that you’re going to initially reduce the number of leads Sales receives is not going to win you any friends. Remember, each Sales Rep is compensated on the number of deals they close, and their ability to hit that target depends heavily on the number of leads they receive. Therefore, be mindful that you are asking Sales to rally behind a new strategy that could potentially affect them fi nancial and even personally.
This ebook reviews how you can sell inbound marketing to your Sales team, by answering the two key questions Sales will want fast answers to: “What’s in it for me?” and “How can I use it to boost my success?”
What’s in this ebook?
1. How to explain the benefi ts of inbound 2. What are the benefi ts to the Sales team? 3. Sharing business goals
4. Providing training
Your Sales team will view the concept of inbound marketing as another marketing tactic that will either generate them more or less leads, with fear and scepticism that it will be the latter. They may even have a misguided impression that inbound marketing is simply the terminology that marketing uses to give away information for free!
As the Sales or Marketing Manager/Director, it is your role to explain the benefi ts of an inbound strategy to overcome their fears and more importantly, to ensure that you receive buy-in to a concept that will most likely have an initial negative impact on the number of leads they receive and the knock on effect on their sales targets.
The introduction of Inbound Marketing commonly results in a reduction in lead volume in the fi rst two to three months, as leads are held back for nurturing. Therefore, instead of Marketing passing on a lead; for example, an individual who has simply downloaded one brochure, or clicked through an email campaign, or even given their business card in a free prize draw at an event, Marketing retain and nurture the lead until contact is perceived to be sales-ready – hence the delay in Sales receiving the lead.
HOW TO INTRODUCE INBOUND MARKETING?
Because the launch of inbound will affect lead volumes, it is important that you discuss the implementation with Sales early on, and ensure that you negate any fears and concerns they may have.
Explain that by implementing inbound marketing, Sales will never receive a ‘lead’ again! Instead, they will receive a sales-ready prospect or Marketing Qualifi ed Lead (MQL), whereby the prospect has consumed content or responded to a Call To Action (CTA) that has identifi ed them as having a true interest in your company service and/or product. This is typically measured through lead scoring. For example, you may promote a white paper worth 15 points, or a webinar worth 35 points or a CTA such as ‘request a quote’ which is worth 50 points. A MQL is a prospect who has digested enough of your marketing content to receive 50 points, or completed a specifi c action valued at 50 points. Once a prospect has 50 points, Marketing can then be confi dent that this prospect has shown enough interest and would welcome a sales call.
However, it is crucial that you avoid turning the discussion into a battle; inbound marketing versus Sales. Inbound marketing is not here to replace the Sales team, and if this message is not managed sensitively, Sales may interpret it as such! Do not ‘sell’ the idea of inbound marketing or use the meetings as a way to demonstrate your own knowledge. Instead, focus on posing simple questions, for example:
“Do you want to continue making cold, unwanted sales calls?”
“Would you like to talk to prospects that are waiting to receive your call and are interested in what you have to say?”
A drop in the number of leads for a couple of months suddenly becomes an acceptable proposition, when it is likely that from month three, Sales will receive quality leads that they can convert, rather than experiencing the demotivation of cold calling!
However, if your Sales team are still not convinced, here are seven ways Sales will benefi t from the introduction of inbound:
1. NO MORE COLD-CALLING
Ask your Sales Reps, when was the last time they walked into a shop to make a sizeable purchase without researching online fi rst? Well, it’s the same for your prospects. Consumers today no longer welcome the cold call until they have completed their own due-diligence fi rst. Therefore, not only are Sales probably seeing a reduction in their lead to qualifi ed sales opportunity rate, the company’s prospects are becoming increasingly frustrated with you interrupting their busy day. Not a great way to start a business relationship!
By implementing an inbound marketing strategy, Sales will only receive a lead that has raised their hand and explicitly identifi ed themselves as someone who has an interest in your company’s products and services, who will be open and often willing to take a sales call.
Sales no longer face days of ploughing through a list of cold call numbers and being told “No”, over and over and over again!
2. RECEIVE MQLS
We have all dropped our business cards into a bowl to win whatever is on offer but not been interested in the company running the competition. And in such an instant, would you consider yourself a lead for this company?
Inbound ensures that these individuals are fi ltered out of the sales pipeline before your Sales Rep wastes their time trying to contact them. Instead, Sales will only receive leads that have shown a growing interest in your products and services and, in most cases, will be expecting to receive a call and be receptive to their sales pitch.
How is this achieved? By ‘nurturing’ leads via a series of relevant communications. Imagine a refi nery, whereby cold leads enter in the middle of the furnace, some may never respond again and disappear as waste at the bottom, but the majority receive further educational content, warming their interest further, until they reach the top of the funnel, signifying that they are sales-ready. These leads are passed to Sales for contact and closing. And if the MQL is not closed, Sales can simply return the prospect to the refi nery to be ‘heated’ again.
By only receiving MQLs, Sales stop wasting time on unqualifi ed leads and can concentrate more time on converting interested prospects to customers.
3. AVOID THE GATE KEEPER
Every Sales Rep has experienced the dreaded ‘Gate Keeper’, the individual who stops Sales Reps talking to the key decision maker. There is nothing more frustrating. Sales have to convince the Gate Keeper to put them through before they can even start the sales conversation. Inbound helps Sales avoid this.
Not only is the prospect expecting a call from your Sales team, when Sales do call, they can immediately side step the Gate Keeper by demonstrating knowledge of the decision-maker and the project or pain-points that they are currently struggling with. Plus, Sales can also use this information when talking with the decision-maker to establish rapport and present themselves as a Solutions Consultant, rather than a sales person with a pitch.
4. IMPROVED SALES DECK
One of the greatest benefi ts to Sales is the wealth of valuable and educational content that the Marketing team is now producing. A good Sales Rep will always have a MQL whereby the prospect stops them, mid-fl ow, and asked for more information.
By adopting inbound, your Marketing team are now producing research papers, ebooks, customer success stories, blogs and webinars, that will help answer prospects’ questions, or demonstrate the value of your company’s products.
But most importantly, if your company is implementing a true inbound strategy, the resources that your Marketing team are producing won’t just be random pieces. Instead they will be based on the information that Sales have provided, relating to the questions prospects are asking and the problems they are looking to resolve. As a result, the content produced will help Sales overcome the most common obstacles without interruption to the call.
5. IMPROVED FIRST IMPRESSION
The sharing of information works both ways. Sales sharing information with Marketing will improve the sales deck available. But likewise, thanks to the prospect intelligence that Marketing will be able to provide, Sales will signifi cantly improve the quality of their initial sales calls.
Via inbound marketing techniques, when Sales receive a lead, they will also receive a wealth of prospect information, for example;
• When the prospect visited your website • What attracted the prospect
• What content or resources has the prospect consumed, over what period of time. All this information provides Sales with a clear understanding of what the prospect is interested in. Whether they are trying to answer a specifi c issue or achieve a specifi c goal etc. Sales can then use this information to prepare for their initial sales call whereby, instead of entering the call with a sales pitch, they can enter the call with an understanding of what the prospect is try to achieve and expand on this with a consultancy approach – leading to a greater conversion rate.
6. SHORTENED SALES CYCLE
This sharing of information between Sales and Marketing will signifi cantly shorten the sales cycle. First, based on the information Sales shares with Marketing, Marketing can then start producing content that will not only attract new prospects but answer frequently asked questions, thus producing valued qualifi ed MQLs which are one step closer to being closed. With Marketing sharing this prospect intelligence, Sales can avoid the initial cold call sales pitch, and instead engage the prospect by understanding and offering solutions to their pain-points. The supportive Sales call immediately reinforces the trust and the impression that the prospect has of the company when they have completed their own research, becoming more receptive and more likely to close!
7. REGULAR FLOW OF LEADS
And most importantly, the initial drop in the number of leads will soon be replaced by a constant fl ow of MQLs. No longer will Sales come back from an event or the day after an email campaign and have an unmanageable number of leads to follow-up within the magic 48 hour window. With inbound, new prospects are entering the refi nery every day and every day leads will steadily drip out, making them easier to manage. Furthermore, the Marketing team produces more and more new content, the number of entry points into the refi nery increases and therefore, the number of prospects entering the refi nery increases. So, despite the initial lead drought as an inbound strategy is implemented, Sales will soon receive a steady manageable fl ow of MQLs and this pipeline will continue to grow, increasingly boosting sales opportunities.
3. SHARING BUSINESS GOALS
You may fi nd that it is easy to get initial buy-in, but six weeks into the campaign, Sales will probably start screaming for more leads and very quickly their alarm bells will start ringing.
One way to manage this panic is to agree on business goals and identify meaningful metrics, which will not only promote inbound marketing by showing Sales that lead volume, lead quality and most importantly, sales revenues are moving in the right direction. Plus, by introducing this transparency, both teams will have a greater understanding of the MQL to Qualifi ed Sales Opportunity (QSO) ratio, and the conversion rate between QSO and closed sale.
MARKETING SHOULD SET GOALS AND
TRACK THE FOLLOWING:
1. Number of website visits
2. Number of web visitors responding to the content and CTAs promoted – measure page views, downloads, form submissions - to see not only how people are coming to your site, but what they are doing, what have they downloaded, what content is popular and how many leads are being generated.
3. Number of MQLs generated – by campaign or source i.e. social media 4. Number of MQLs that convert into QSOs.
Marketing should share their expected and targeted number of MQLs for a 12 month period to ensure that Sales are aware of the expected drop in the number of leads in the fi rst few months, as well as the recovery and future growth.
Sales and Management then need to set fair Sales targets to refl ect the lead generation expected. There is little point in still expecting Sales to hit the same targets with less leads. There needs to be a long term goal and a consensus that it will not be achieved overnight.
If these goals are shared and approved, it will be easy to manage Sales when they panic (and they will) in the fi rst few weeks!
4. PROVIDING TRAINING
By now you should have gained the trust of Sales, and made them aware that there will be an initial drop in the number of leads. They also need to understand the long term benefi ts, and share your excitement around cracking on with an inbound strategy. But before you steam ahead with all guns blazing, now is the time to work with your Sales team and ensure that they are prepared for the launch.
It is good practice to provide a joint Sales and Marketing training program, to ensure that both teams: • Are aware of how an inbound strategy works
• Understand why the business is implementing an inbound strategy • Know their individual responsibilities, goals and targets
• Understand the deal refi nery and are aware of the timescales between initial prospect contact and becoming a MQL
• Provide input in up and coming marketing themes, and content, ensuring that they match what Sales are hearing when talking to current prospect
• Discuss different lead sources, and the value of the content being digested. The Marketing team may have to change lead scoring to improve lead quality
• Schedule monthly review meetings for both teams to share successes, issues, messages, etc.
By running a joint Sales and Marketing training programme, you can establish those individuals who will be your inbound evangelists and those that may need more convincing. You can start engaging
5. SHARE AND COMMUNICATE SUCCESS
You’ve set your goals, you’ve trained everyone and you’ve launched – now it’s time sit back and watch it all come together, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple because inbound marketing requires continual growth and communication, so it is vital that both Sales and Marketing teams share successes and feedback on where things could be improved.
Marketing needs to tell Sales about the increase in the number of website visitors and the number of leads generated, in comparison to traditional marketing methods.
Sales needs to tell Marketing whether the leads received are ‘sales-ready’. They also need to have realistic expectations that inbound is not going to generate a wealth of individuals sitting at a desk with pen in hand ready to sign, but that it will identify individuals willing to take a sales call. Share success by comparing historic and current conversion rates, and also when a big deal is closed.
By sharing this information, Sales and Marketing, working as one team, can identify what is working and what is not, and amend tactics accordingly. Marketing can start looking at buyer personas to improve new prospect targeting; the message can be honed to attract more individuals and nurture programmes can be adapted to address topical concerns of prospects.
A cycle of continuous improvement and optimisation can only lead to increased lead generation, great lead quality and ultimately, more sales wins!
When implementing an inbound strategy, it is important to ensure that you provide both Sales and Marketing with the tools they need to effectively communicate and deliver nurture campaigns, while providing Sales with the prospect intelligence required to successfully close the lead. Marketing Automation software, integrated with a CRM solution, creates the ultimate management tool partnership to deliver and amplify your company’s inbound marketing strategy.
Marketing Automation software provides your Marketing team with a tool to track the online interactions experienced by a prospect with your business, including how they found your website, their website journey, plus downloads or forms submitted. This provides Marketing with the metrics to see which marketing messages and marketing channels are working, to better direct their marketing budget. In addition, within the Marketing Automation tool, Marketing can create automated campaigns, ensuring they are warming leads until they are sales-ready within the deal refi nery, without having to individually manage every prospect, which would be impossible.
CRM then provides you with a Sales tool to capture the MQL and provide Sales with the prospect intelligence required to close the deal. Within the CRM solution, Sales will have a complete 360˚ view of all interactions with the prospect and be in a position to record all conversations, emails sent, and track stock, quotes, orders, delivery and post sales service. Plus, more importantly, via CRM dashboards, Sales will be able to track all the metrics and information they need to share with Marketing to ensure Sales benefi ts from the continued cycle of improvement.
Hopefully, this ebook has provided you with the business case for driving Sales’ support of an inbound marketing strategy. However, if you require further information or details relating to the inbound business tools available, please access further complimentary resources, including:
BUSINESS CASE FOR
INBOUND PART 1:
A WINNING FORMULA
FOR SALES WHITE PAPER
SALES SHIFT: HOW TO
THRIVE IN AN INBOUND
PROSPECT AND RECRUIT
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